Designing is not a profession but an attitude.

I talked last week to David Carns, the Chief Strategy Officer of Casepoint. Casepoint is an e-discovery cloud based provider that offers data-based intelligence and full-spectrum eDiscovery, including cloud collections, data processing, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, along with review and customizable productions.

I first met David and was introduced to the product earlier this year at Legalweek and mentioned it in my post about that conference. As I discussed in that post, I found the Casepoint product to be intuitive and enables litigators to find documents and materials they need to take meaningful depositions, respond to discovery and prepare for trial. I was so impressed by what it could do, I remarked, after playing around with it, that I got the itch to return to litigation just to use the tool to prepare for a document intensive  deposition.

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It was fourth and long for the 8th Circuit. It had previously ruled that North Dakota’s mandatory bar association rules passed constitutional scrutiny despite a First Amendment challenge by Arnold Fleck. But Fleck appealed that decision to the U. S. Supreme Court. SCOTUS directed the 8th Circuit to re-review its previous decision in light of the SCOTUS decision in Janus.

As previously discussed, Janus held that public sector unions could not, under state statute, deduct union fees from nonmember public employees unless those employees clearly and affirmatively waived their First Amendment freedom of association rights. Those rights include the ability to object to paying fees used for union activities that were political in nature.

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Every year since1995, Mary Meeker issues a comprehensive, exhaustive and, definitive internet and social media trends report. This Report underscores the most important statistics and technology trends on the internet. It focuses on internet usage, advertising trends, and other tech trends. Almost everyone in the tech and social media areas pays particular attention to Meeker’s findings and statistics. This year’s Report came out in June. Meeker, left Kleiner Perkins last fall after eight years at the VC firm and is now with Bond Cap LLC.

I recently listened to the Kennedy-Mighell podcast in which they discussed the Report and its findings, which caused me to wade through the 334 slides that compose Meeker’s observations and analysis. I found key metrics that should interest lawyers and particularly trial lawyers.

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It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.


About a week ago, I published a piece entitled Profession in Crisis, which summarized a recent ABA Report on the status of our profession offered and discussed at this year’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In that post, I focused on the Report’s statistics reflecting the lack of diversity in the profession, the lack of women in leadership positions and the alarming rate of suicide, depression and problem drinking within our profession that the Report revealed.

I also cited Daniel Rodriguez’ conclusion offered at the session in which the Report was discussed: young people are no longer interested in becoming lawyers. In my mind, the statistics in the Report and Dan’s conclusions were alarming and suggested a profession in crisis. (Particularly since so little progress has been made on all these fronts for so long).

Many of you read the post and commented favorably and even offered suggestions to make the post better. Some of you respectfully disagreed with some of my conclusions or offered other helpful commentaries. I thank you all who took the time to do that.

But apparently, the post and my conclusions didn’t sit well with at least one commentator who runs a well known and heavily marketed consulting service. This person somehow believed the best response to the statistics and my conclusions would be to hurl insults and resort to name-calling rather than respond meaningfully.

In a long, meandering rant, he called me a “massively clueless tech zealot” for suggesting that a high rate of suicide in the profession and the lack of progress with diversity and women in leadership is alarming

In a long meandering rant, he called me a “massively clueless tech zealot” for suggesting that a high rate of suicide in the profession and the lack of progress with diversity and women in leadership is alarming. (How being a clueless tech zealot has anything to do with a lack of diversity in our profession or the rampant depression from which we suffer is a bit beyond me). He labeled me a “boondoggler” and “bloviator” and likened me to the proverbial emperor with no clothes for speaking out.

He suggested that relying on data as opposed to common sense is misplaced. He opined that questions raised by another commentator about how things like the pervasiveness of google may be effecting our profession and whether and to what extent lawyers should know something about things like coding were “embarrassing.”

He even attacked a well known legal software provider for offering a well attended Conference with “lame” sessions and for not delivering useful information. The last time I attended this same conference, my commentator friend was there, looking for clients and snarfing up food and drink.

I won’t bother calling out the commentator or giving him any more credence or publicity than he deserves. But here, again, are the statistics from the ABA Report:

  • 85% of the profession is white
  • 80% of our federal judges are white
  • Less than 20% of law firm partners are women
  • 28% of lawyers report suffering from depression
  • 20% report suffering from severe anxiety
  • 10% report suicidal thoughts
  • 21% report problem drinking.

And the list goes on. Perhaps the commentator thinks this is not alarming or even relevant but I sure as hell do.

Let’s face it: no amount of name-calling or disagreement with my conclusions can change the numbers. No amount of shouting about my qualifications or lack thereof can change the data. No amount of trying to downplay the importance of the numbers by spouting about “common sense” can change the facts.

The real fact is for too long many in the profession have responded to diversity issues and mental health concerns by either ignoring the facts or denigrating those who speak out.

The real fact is for too long many in the profession have responded to diversity issues and mental health concerns by either ignoring the facts or denigrating those who speak out. For too long, we have poo-pooed legitimate concerns of women, people of color, and those suffering from mental health issues. For too long, we have tried to hide what data shows by appealing to common sense and intuition over analytics and science. It is just these kinds of reactions that got us into this mess to begin with.

It bears repeating: our profession is still 85% white, we have made almost no progress promoting women in law firm leadership roles and we suffer from depression and alchoholism in high levels. And we fail to serve over 80% of the population.

Those are the facts. No amount of mudslinging by middle-aged white men who have benefited from the lack of diversity can change them.

Those are the facts. No amount of mudslinging by middle-aged white men who have benefited from the lack of diversity can change them.

Name calling to obfuscate facts you don’t like or trying to bully those who say something you prefer not to be true to distract an audience seems to be a common strategy these days. But let’s not let it distract us in facing up to the realities the ABA statistics show. It’s too important to our future.

By the way,  I practiced law for 35 years. I know a bully when I see one.

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Over the past couple of weekends, I attended two conferences, one in Nashville and one in the suburbs of Chicago. One was legal. One was not. Both were small events with less than 200 attendees. And while they were both different substantively, they both had the same informal, sharing type feel where real conversations can and do happen.

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Today in the American Lawyer, a frank and insightful open letter from Dentons senior partner Jana Cohen Barbe was published. The message was directed primarily toward the devastating toll the billable hour model is taking on our mental health and our profession.

The pressure to work seven days a week, to miss family events, to forgo vacations, to miss needed doctor’s appointments—can not be overstated

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I have been intrigued of late with the potential power of big data and data analytics to disrupt the practice of law and provide insights into areas previously governed by lawyer “gut instinct.” For example, litigation data analytics can provide useful and significant insights into such things as experience and tendencies of opposing counsel, judicial inclinations, and timing. Analytics is revolutionizing the counsel selection process as clients use data to learn the truth about lawyer marketing claims and determine the best fit for matters.

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This week I’m attending the Enterprise World Conference in Toronto put on by OpenText. OpenText is an Enterprise Information Management (EIM)  company that works with businesses of all sorts to manage digital information and then use that information to better achieve their goals. If that sounds broad, its because it is. OpenText has its hands in almost every industry.

OpenText recently made a big play to get into the LegalTech space and is trumpeting this entry at the Conference. OpenText’s legal section and programs have been mentioned prominently in the company keynotes and educational sessions and it has devoted significant space on the exhibit floor to its legal related products.

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One of my favorite academic LegalTech/innovation thought leaders is Dan Linna. Dan was a practicing litigator for several years before moving over to the academic side and is now with the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago. Dan brings good humor to every issue and never tires of pushing the needle when it comes to legal tech. He’s also very attuned to what’s going on in the marketplace. To paraphrase an old commercial: When Dan Linna talks, everyone should listen.
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